We had the good fortune of connecting with Tom Sless and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tom, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When I think about risk, I consider two things: (1) risk doesn’t solely apply to “risky” activities and (2) risk is a factor not just in our actions, but also in our inactions. Risky activities are obvious: skydiving.. bull-riding.. passing up a secure corporate career path to co-produce a debut album (that was me).. but even in my day-to-day life, I’ve been presented with choices that are not obviously “risky” but involve risk. I risk failure in my career when I choose an extra couple hours of sleep instead of consistent morning meditation, reading, and writing. I risk a sense of loss when I let friends fall out of touch, rather than rekindle those burnt-out flames. I risk clarity when I prioritize a late night out over feeling fresh the next morning to tackle my goals. These are not inherently risky activities, but they pose understated risks to my long-term success, happiness, and sense of fulfillment. I think we encounter risk every day. By avoiding risk, we avoid actualizing the life we dream of. As such, inaction can be just as risky as action. The longer I waited to commit myself full-time to my music career, the greater the risk that I would never perform on stages across Los Angeles, produce and release an album of my own original music (“California Dream” released in March 2020), or embrace my true self as an artist. The longer I pushed off adopting constructive routines to develop my writing, rouse my creativity, and fulfill my promises to myself, the less likely it is to reach my goals. Risk comes in many forms. To me, risks are not something to be afraid of. Risks are like badges to earn and wear on our sleeve. Risk makes us stronger for the next batch of challenges.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My brand and story are all about stepping up to challenges, and taking them head on. After spending the last six years in Los Angeles, I’m excited to be relocating temporarily to Ft. Worth, TX. In Texas, I’ll be beginning work on the conversion of a 2019 Ford Transit into a road warrior equipped for life on the road in 2021 (follow @thevanhudson on Instagram for updates on the conversion!). My music and my writing is centered around finding the road less traveled and driving down it full speed – not playing it safe in the easy lane – and I can’t wait to share my tunes with as many cities and towns as I can across the country. It wasn’t easy to make the decision to leave L.A. My time in SoCal led me to so many incredible experiences, and gave me the chance to build deep friendships with so many amazing people, both in music and outside of it. L.A. gave me the chance to discover what kind of person I could become. I have so much love for Southern California, its people, and of course, its beaches. But as I go forward, my musical mission is to inspire listeners to never be afraid of pursuing what they truly believe in, saying what they know to be right and true, or embracing their own individuality. I guide myself by love for myself, for my family, for my friends, and for my community, because I think that by doing so, I can make the world just a little bit better.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If you’re planning on spending a week in Los Angeles, then in my opinion you have got a handful of “must-see” and “must-eat” places. On the Westside, hit up 26 Beach for a delicious brunch and bubbly, The Whaler and Big Dean’s for an afternoon beer, and then Casablanca in Venice for the best Mexican food and margaritas for dinner. Along the way, go down Via Marina in Marina del Rey and watch the boats come in and out of the marina entrance. There’s nothing more gorgeous than watching the huge sails pass by under a clear blue sky, with the Playa del Rey bluffs and planes taking off in the background. If you’ve got time, go down to the South Bay and walk along the strand. I’m also a sucker for Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. There’s great shopping of course, but it’s also just a beautiful place to walk around in the sun. Don’t worry about the traffic.. just let it blend in to the neverending rows of palm trees on Washington Blvd.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am blessed to be surrounded by many encouraging people who push me to stay true to my dreams. However, for this Shoutout, the cake definitely goes to my parents, my sister, and my brother. Not only are they all incredible supporters of my music, they are also the best promoters, constantly sharing my music with friends and bar owners, helping me to build a fanbase and find new places to perform. They’re also always there to listen to a new song of mine and give honest feedback. There’s no way I would be on this journey without their love and support!
Raz Azraai @dancefloormurder